CU Scientist comments on Voyager 1, 35 years later

September 5, 2012

Sept. 5, 2012                                                Larry Esposito

35 years ago today NASA launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft to Jupiter and Saturn. It is now at the edge of the solar system, more than 11 billion miles from the sun.

CU-Boulder space scientist Larry Esposito still marvels at the discoveries made by the Voyager 1 and its sister craft, Voyager 2, also launched in 1977.

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CU Scientist comments on Voyager 1, 35 years later

Sept. 5, 2012                                                Larry Esposito

35 years ago today NASA launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft to Jupiter and Saturn. It is now at the edge of the solar system, more than 11 billion miles from the sun.CU-Boulder space scientist Larry Esposito still marvels at the discoveries made by the Voyager 1 and its sister craft, Voyager 2, also launched in 1977.

CUT 1 ” We never expected how long the Voyagers would last and we couldn’t hope to imagine, we didn’t imagine, all the things that we’d discover. (:08) One of the team leaders said, ‘Well this was on the top of the list of the things we’d hoped to find out.’ But for most of the things, we didn’t have a list, we found out things that were completely different from what we expected or answered questions that we didn’t even have before we had flown close by to these planets.” (:27)

Esposito is a physics professor at CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. As a member of the LASP team, Esposito helped create the photopolarimeter -- a small telescope on Voyager 1 that measures light intensity and polarization. Now the spacecraft is sending data from the edge of the solar system, which is enveloped in a giant and turbulent plasma bubble.

CUT 2 “We planned to discover not only the edge of the solar system, but how the winds from the other stars blow on our own solar system and how that interaction between our little neighborhood occurs with the rest of the universe, the rest of the galaxy around us.” (:14)

Voyager 1 will continue to explore new frontiers as the spacecraft prepares to exit the solar system and enter interstellar space. When it does it will be the first manmade spacecraft to leave the solar system.

CUT 3 “This interaction, how we interact with the bigger universe and the details of that, that’s what we’re searching for. It’s hard to say what we’re going to discover. (:09) We’re always looking for something new and most of the instruments are turned off. The Colorado instrument was turned off in 1991, but the mission is still going out there and it’s still sending information.” (:22)

-CU-

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